To Canton as You Turn 11

Dear Canton,

Oh Sunshine, how is it possible you are 11? It was my job for years to hang out with a bunch of 11 year olds on a daily basis, I have gotten to know hundreds of preteens and I have to say, you my dear, are by far the most interesting, kind, well rounded one I’ve ever had the joy to know. I sit here writing this as you simultaneously belt out Hamilton lyrics and building in Minecraft, while entertaining your sisters. I’m amazed by you.

“I probably shouldn’t brag, but dag, I amaze and astonish…”

“Look around, look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now…”

Eleven?!?!?! I so distinctively remember every kick you made when we shared this old vessel of mine. Specifically, each night around 7:30pm, I don’t know if it was winding down from the workday or the sugar rush of an after dinner cookie but that is usually when I could feel the strength of your kicks, even then you were tap dancing through my soul.

“Boy, you got me helpless! Look into your eyes and the sky’s the limit. I’m Helpless!”

Back then I dreamed of all I wanted for your future, but it is still hard to wrap my head around the fact my first born, my baby boy, is marching toward adulthood. You’ve lived with me for more time than you will continue living with me. It is a joy to watch you grow but my heart aches each year. I want you to stay small, to continue to hug your mama and dote on your sisters, but you are moving swiftly away from us and toward your limitless future.

There’s a million things I haven’t done, just you wait…”

It seems like your life is moving at warp speed. I hope you remember to take your time. You have been advanced at so many things: you walked early, talked early, had a boundless vocabulary, perfected the report card game, you take accelerated courses in school {super proud by the way 🙂 }but it’s ok to slow down sometimes. You are always trying to complete the next challenge, finish the latest book, complete your puzzles, perfect your lines; remember to enjoy the journey.

“He will never be satisfied”

Life has seemed a little unfair as of late. The COVID-19 virus has upended the world. You abruptly had school ended, no play, no music, no piano, no acting, no Stagelights. But, instead of wallowing you noticed a lot of the injustice in society, how others had it so much harder and how we needed to donate and provide what we could to help others. May you always carry that sense of justice and empathy.

“I’ve seen injustice in the world and I’ve corrected it…”

Life is actually unfair a lot. That’s a hard lesson to learn and it is harder to understand. But I have seen you have persistence as you try to master a dance step, an equation, or getting a line just right in Cheaper by the Dozen (Williamsburg Players) or as Robin, the lead in your school play “At the Bandstand”. So many things come easy to you, but some things don’t, some things won’t, continue to work, persist, and share your gifts.

“Got a lot farther by working a lot harder, by being a lot smarter, by being a self-starter…”

I remember the toddler with the limitless collection of Thomas engines, the boy obsessed with space correcting adults at the planetarium, and I’ve watched the young man learn to take on different characters in your acting classes and plays. I’m so proud of that kind, old soul of yours, your zest for life, the way you protect you sisters, your curiosity, your passion, your love of family. Continue to follow your passion, may it guide your life.

“The Man is Non-Stop”

Although your fifth grade year was abruptly ended in March I feel incredibly luckily to have extra time with you. Your routine is different but you have grown in reading and writing perhaps more than you would have in school. You have spent more time with your sisters, you draw, create, and read with them. You have noticed more of the little things, the inferences needed to deconstruct stories, words flow more easily than they once did. You have always grasped facts incredibly quickly, but you are beginning to appreciate the beauty and art behind all the science and facts.

“Get your education, don’t forget from whence you came and the world’s gonna know your name…”

You are heading to middle school this year (maybe, hopefully right?!). You won’t need me as much. Gone are the days of you holding my hand to cross the street, but you will always hold my heart in your hand. If I’ve learned anything from years in the trenches as a middle grade teacher, it is that you need role models and love more than you know. You won’t come to me for hugs and comfort as much, but I’m here always. I know the teenage fights are coming, but I will love your more each day, and that love is unconditional.

“And when push comes to shove, I will send a fully armed battalion to remind you of my love…”

You are admired, cherished, treasured, loved.

I know you aren’t throwing away your shot! 🙂

Love you sunshine!



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